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by: Don Samuel

I used to think that the most common lawyer answer to client questions began with the qualifier, “It depends.” This generally is a prelude to a number of hypotheticals that demonstrate the lawyer’s knowledge of so many factors that would affect the answer to the client’s question: “It depends which judge is assigned to the case.” Or “It depends on whether the statement is offered for the truth of the matter asserted, or not.” Or “It depends on whether the co-defendant becomes a government witness.” Or “It depends on whether the jury believes John or Joe.” Or, "It depends if the expert prepares a written report or not."

But now, I believe that the most common question asked by clients begins with the word, “When ...” (“When will the courts open?” “When will trials be held?” “When can I come to your office in person?” “When will the judge rule on my Compassionate Release Petition?”) and I have determined through a sophisticated algorithm that since mid-March of this year, the most common lawyer answer to a client’s question begins with, “I don’t know.”

Here is an exception:

I sent an email to a client on Friday that said, simply, “If you ask me one more question that begins with the word, ‘When …’ I am going to fire you as a client.”

He responded, “When can I start asking you questions that begin with the word ‘When?’”

To which I replied, “You will need to ask your new lawyer that question.”